You need more than love to fix a relationship.
Can things that are broken ever truly be repaired, or will the cracks always show? It’s a question worth considering, particularly when it comes to relationships. Whether a relationship is breaking down or has already broken, it’s important to know when it can be repaired and when it’s best to leave it alone and let it go.
I don’t want to give out false hope. Some relationships cannot be saved no matter how much we might wish otherwise. But there are some signs that a relationship is capable of being repaired and continuing.
5 Signs Your Broken Relationship Can Still Be Repaired
You Can Openly Talk About What Went Wrong
For a broken relationship to ever be repaired, you have to be able to openly and honestly be able to talk about what went wrong. This doesn’t mean that one person takes all the responsibility for the problems in the relationship. Rather, this is the part where both parties are accountable for their role in what’s broken.
If you can’t honestly talk about what went wrong, how can you fix it? Can you admit when you let each other down even if it wasn’t intentional? Can you openly express your wants and needs even if the vulnerability of doing so feels terrifying? And more than that, if you do speak up about what you want and need, do you feel your partner is responsive to it? Are you responsive to theirs?
It’s a lot of food for thought, but you can’t repair a relationship when you can’t talk about the problems. Sweeping them under the nearest rug won’t fix anything. Instead, the problems will only grow and fester. If you’re openly communicating, there’s at least a chance that what’s broken can be fixed.
The Love is Still There
Is the love still there on both sides, or has it become one-sided? A tough truth is that you can’t save a relationship where only one person is in love and wants it to work. If someone’s feelings have changed, it’s too late for repairs.
However, if you still have love for each other and want to remain in the relationship, there’s hope that the problems can be repaired. Now, I won’t say that love is enough. Sadly, it never is. But it’s not nothing. It is the seed of hope that could grow into a stronger relationship than you’ve ever had before. If the love is there, it’s possible you can heal whatever has broken. But only if these other factors are also true.
You’re Both Willing to Work on It
There is no saving a relationship by a single person in it. It takes both people fully committing to working on repairs. Saving a damaged relationship can require learning new ways to communicate, problem-solve, and love each other. If both people are willing to experience the discomfort of this change, then there’s a chance you can repair what went wrong.
The hard truth about this part is that you’ll never stop repairing. Relationships require ongoing work. Is your partner willing to keep trying even when it’s not easy? Are you?
Putting in ongoing effort to maintain the relationship may sound challenging to you. It absolutely is. But do you feel like it’s worth it? If you both see the value in repairing the relationship, you’ll be open to listening to each other, changing your default behaviors, and growing into a healthier relationship.
You Have a Shared Vision of the Future
It’s important to consider what you both want for the future. Do you still want the same things, or have you grown in different directions? It’s important to determine this from the outset. If you don’t want the same kind of life, you can have all the love and effort in the world and still not be able to make it work.
Talk about what you want. Listen to what they want. Is there a way to compromise so that both partners can get what they need? Are the futures you’re dreaming of compatible? Talking about this is hard because there’s a temptation to tell each other what you think the other person wants to hear rather than admitting what you actually want — and how that might impact the relationship.
Relationships can’t last that are entirely one-sided. One person can’t always chase their dreams while the other person constantly gives up their own. Talking about your dreams for the future is a necessary part of determining if your paths are even compatible.
You’re Willing to Do Whatever It Takes
Another key component of repairing a broken relationship requires doing whatever it takes to make it right. Apologies should include making amends for what was broken, not just saying “sorry”.
It may also be time to seek professional help for the relationship. If either one of you refuses to participate in counseling, the relationship can’t be saved. It’s a clear sign that you’re not equally committed to fixing what went wrong.
While going to counseling can feel intimidating, it’s an important and often necessary step to gaining perspective about the layers of hurt and disappointment that might have accumulated during the relationship. Allowing a professional to guide you through making relationship repairs is one of the best ways to make sure you’re not glossing over any resentment or skimping on any repairs. It also shows a willingness to do what it takes to fix things.
At the same time, you both have to be willing to make the perspective and behavioral shifts required for repair. Someone who won’t commit to quit cheating won’t be able to repair a relationship. Someone who refuses to learn better communication skills for solving problems isn’t doing what it takes to make the relationship better.
A Word of Warning
When you first commit to saving a relationship, you can find yourself feeling euphoric. In those initial stages of reparation, you might experience a honeymoon period where everything seems better. It could even tempt you into believing that everything is fixed.
It’s not. Initially, you can feel the pink cloud of optimism that everything will be okay. This is common in recovery. You’ll feel confident that everything is going to be fine. Often, this gives you the motivation to continue. However, it’s not going to last. Eventually, the pink cloud fades and the real, hard work begins. This is when many people give up and decide it’s just too much trouble to even try.
However, the pink cloud can be acknowledged and even utilized to help give the repairs initial momentum. Having a relationship repair plan of small steps to create change can help continue a sense of progress even when the pink cloud fades and disappears.
Can YOUR Relationship Be Repaired?
I can’t tell you if your relationship can be repaired. You and your partner, or former partner, are the only ones who can decide if you still have the love, shared goals, and willingness to try that are required to make the effort to fix things.
The hard truth is that you may both make the effort and find that you just can’t repair the relationship. At that point, you’ll at least know you tried your hardest to make it work. While it’s devastating when a relationship falls apart, you’ll have peace when you did what you could to repair any hurt. Hopefully, if you’ve both tried, you can wish each other well and then go on to grieve and let go of the relationship.
The ones that can be the hardest to let go of are the relationships we want to repair when the other person wants to move on. It can be difficult to accept that the very fact that they don’t want to fix things means that things can’t be fixed. It can feel devastating, but it’s important to accept and respect the other person’s wishes.
But there are times when relationships can be successfully repaired and go on to last. It takes willingness and work on both sides, but if the relationship is worth it, you’ll do it anyway.
Sometimes, we outgrow people. Sometimes, they outgrow us. Change is hard, but it’s even harder to stay in relationships where change is necessary but is stunted by our refusal to allow it.
When we sincerely love someone, we want them to be happy even if that happiness doesn’t include us. Selfish love that insists we get what we want while ignoring what they want was never meant to last. If we can be honest with ourselves and our partners, we can figure out if the broken relationship can be repaired. If it can’t, we can make our peace. If it can, it’s time to get to work.
Originally published on Medium